As anyone who follows me on twitter already knows...the BT saga has rumbled along. And along. And along.
I currently have 3 home hub's cluttering up my lounge, only 2 boxes for them and no 'return to sender' jiffy bags. Which I suppose don't really matter as much as if they were fully functioning home hub's. Not that I think BT would be as cavalier as other companies in simply recycling their hardware out to other customers. But that's only because I have no evidence that's the case. Unlike, say...O2 who've done that to me on many occasions.
I digress. BT were on the case as soon as that email to their Chief Executive went into the public domain. Kate, the executive level complaints lady they put on the case has been helpful, polite and reliable throughout. She's pretty much the only one though.
One of the biggest problems has been liasing with BT's technical support team to try and sort out the homehub. Whilst I'm no IT expert, I'm also no idiot. Well, not when it comes to IT anyway...everything else is probably fair game. I heard from another tweeter that his problem's with the homehub had only been resolved when he'd paid for BT's technical expert to come out, off the top of my head that's a payment of about £50. In addition to BT's broadband/phone services being twice the price of everyone else's to start with that seems a bit rich to me.
To be fair to BT's technical support team...they have phoned me. They've just phoned at times I haven't been available or stocked with sufficient spoons to go through a process that involves shutting down a fully functioning wireless internet connection and messing about with lots of wires. That's about all I can say in their favour. At no point when I've had enough time/energy have I been able to get through to the technical help team, and on occasion they've proceeded with that favourite BT trick...simply putting the phone down. My final attempt to contact them was yesterday...the first call was 'terminated' after 10 minutes on hold, the second I terminated after 15 minutes on hold.
I've tried numerous times to install the homehub before coming to the decision that with limited time and energy to start with it was utterly ridiculous to be wasting any of that time and energy on a completely pointless process. After speaking to Kate yesterday we decided to try and sort out a final time for the tech team to get in touch and Kate contacted them to book a call for 10am today. It's now nearly 6pm and the tech team are yet to phone. I'm confident of this as I've not been able to open the front door today to leave the flat as the weather is so bad. And because Kate had not heard anything from them either.
Whilst the tech support team failed to call, Kate did not. She phoned just before 11am to see how I'd got on with the installation and if there was anything she could do. We arranged for her to send some vouchers as a goodwill gesture, some bags so I can return the homehubs (note to BT that is yet more time and physical energy I am having to waste on your mistakes) and that I would continue using my own equipment (an excellent if a little pricey Belkin router & a seemingly indestructible yet cheap crap old talktalk modem) as it was simply not possible to install the homehubs. I suspect the homehub's won't work wirelessly because there are a limited number of channels for them to transmit on* and there is already such a large number of homehub's in range of my computer that it's impossible to tell which from which. It isn't an environmental issue as the Belkin has a great signal. It's just as good at the top of the three storey house I live in, which I know because I allow teenage neighbour who has the two top floors to use my wireless connection**
After nearly six months as a BT customer my advice to them would be as follows:
Understand that communications is an incredibly competitive market and lose the monopoly provider attitude of not putting the customer first. WE pay YOU. Remember that, incorporate it effectively into your business model and stick to it.
Slash prices. They are so far out of line with other phone/internet providers it's outrageous. Telling customers they are paying a premium for world class customer service is ludicrous when people are well aware BT's customer service is appalling. Follow the example of TalkTalk who, whilst far from perfect, gained respect by admitting their mistakes, then very publicly acting to change it. Poor customer service is always annoying, but it is incensing when a service is so much more expensive than it's competitors.
Stop ALL overseas outsourcing. No exceptions. Customers hate it for a whole variety of reasons. It does not matter how good the overseas staff may be, language or accent will always reduce quality. Always. The implication of racism if customers do not wish to speak to overseas call centre staff only promotes racist or xenophobic attitudes.
Institute an effective call booking system. Guaranteeing a return call sometime within 24 hours is unacceptable. Calls should be booked in half hour time slots at the CUSTOMER'S convenience and adhered to.
Employ enough UK based frontline staff to answer customer's phone calls in less than 5 minutes. No exceptions.
Train and empower frontline call staff to make decisions.
Ensure a proportion of frontline call staff are able to deal with more than just a narrow area of expertise. Complaints should be possible to easily and efficiently solve by one staff member not countless staff in countless different departments. Whilst expertise in certain areas is desirable, it should not be at the expense of overall competence.
Understand that the needs of disabled people are complex. Ensuring those with special needs are not cut off is not a 21st century solution. Neither is relying on the NHS in the form of a GP's signature to police said system. Clarify where the cost of this lies? Is it the individual customer forced into paying for a GP's time, do BT pay, or have BT relied on the taxpayer via the NHS footing the bill?
*or technical equivalent
**on threat of pain of death if he clogs up my connection with porn!